YMCA Europe’s training event “Know Your Say,” from 27 June to 2 July, has successfully empowered 35 enthusiastic participants from diverse European backgrounds.
The comprehensive training covered a range of essential topics, fostering a deeper understanding of various aspects of democratic citizenship while equipping the attendees with vital skills and attitudes needed to become active agents of positive change within their communities.
YMCA Europe has identified the pressing need to increase youth participation by cultivating young change agents. Embracing non-formal education methods to deliver comprehensive democratic citizenship education to its participants, the event consists of interactive activities and a guided “learning by doing” project to engage the attendees actively.
The purpose of this activity was to kick-off the European Youth Network Representative (EYRN), and the training itself will serve as a foundational basis of team and capacity building in order to create a youth-led structure to represent young voices in Europe.
Knowledge was at the heart of the training, as participants gained a greater understanding of critical concepts that shape their identities and value systems, as well as those of others. The concept of community and systems was explored in depth, along with the vital connection between local and global issues.
The training also delved into democracy, its common features, and the fundamental institutions that uphold it. Participants increased their understanding of their democratic rights, the meaning of active citizenship, and the diverse forms of activism that can be utilised to effect meaningful change.
Moreover, they gained insights into the different forms of power and how influence is exerted, as well as a clear understanding of the essence of advocacy.
Participants also acquired valuable skills that they could put into practice. The ability to self-reflect and effectively communicate thoughts and feelings were emphasised as crucial skills for fostering meaningful dialogue and understanding. Attendees were encouraged to identify community issues that demanded attention and to analyse them critically.
They learned to envision realistic solutions to these problems and how to engage effectively with key stakeholders and various groups within their communities.
The training also provided practical tools for messaging, enabling participants to effectively communicate their ideas through various mediums. Writing action plans, setting achievable goals and indicators, and utilising self-monitoring tools were among the vital skills participants acquired, enabling them to plan and execute their initiatives effectively.
Moreover, participants of the training had the unique opportunity to gain real-life insights into decision-making processes by meeting MP Stefan Gelbhaar from the German Green Party in the Bundestag. This encounter allowed them to witness firsthand the complexities and multifaceted dimension of political decision-making.
We were also honored to have representatives of the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe visit the training, providing participants an opportunity to engage with experts and gain insights into the different structures and spaces for youth participation of the Council of Europe. Learn more
Alongside the European Youth Foundation, Markus Schwertel, Head of Policy & Advocacy at HP, graciously shared his practical expertise in lobbying and provided valuable insights on problem and stakeholder analysis. His contributions in developing constructive solutions enhanced the training sessions and inspired participants to take an active role in advocating for change.
At the end of the training, a meeting with the National General Secretaries was held, where participants shared their Action Plans and output of the training, ensuring continuity and structural support for national movements beyond the training.
The success of “Know Your Say” reaffirms the importance of empowering young individuals with the tools they need to make their voices heard and contribute to building a just, equal, diverse, and inclusive society for all.
Photo album of the event is available here.
This project is co-financed by the European Youth Foundation.